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BURNT HILLS: District works on budget

Whittling, trimming, scrutinizing and number-crunching are this spring's activities as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District officials weed out expenses in the drafted budget for 2007-08. As it stands now, the district's proposal comes with about a 6 percent tax increase for residents.

We continue researching a number of ideas for cutting our costs, said Superintendent Jim Schultz. "I wouldn't be surprised if our final 2007-08 budget is even lower than what I'm recom-mending right now."

The school district started its budget deliberations in January with a preliminary 2007-08 budget of $51,040,530, which was 8.6 percent higher than the current year's budget of $46,988,583. Under the new draft, the district's 2007-08 budget would fall to $50,383,630, a budget-to-budget increase of 7.2 percent from the current year.

Board members have continuously sought public input on the drafted spending plan. On March 6, Schultz presented his recommendations to the board of education and described ways that he and other administrators have found to reduce preliminary budget expenses by $657,000.

District residents had a second chance to give their thoughts at a community budget forum on Wednesday, March 14, at Ballston Town Hall to learn about the superintendent's recommended budget and to provide feedback to the board.

At the first public forum in early March, about 30 residents, primarily parents of children in the schools, showed up to comment and give their list of high priority items. Among the district goals supported by the parents are keeping small classroom sizes, supporting sports and special education, and building the district's fund balance for emergency expenses.

Another unusual and inno-vative option under consideration is seeking corporate or business sponsorship for programs such as sporting teams. Members of the public expressed mixed opinions on this. Some said they don't like the idea of corporate logos splashed across scoreboards, while others said sponsorship tastefully done could serve as an effective source of much-needed funds. Residents and board members agreed the sponsorship, if it moves forward, should only be offered to small local businesses rather than large international corporations.

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